What "Social Media" REALLY Means

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, we’re constantly being bombarded with the importance of “social media” and “social networking.” But, what does it all really mean? And how do you use it to your benefit in your every day life, whether finding a service provider, searching for a job, finding new clients, starting a career, making contacts in your personal and professional lives….how do you actually “DO IT?”

First off, it’s important to understand that social media and social networking is all about making relevant contacts ONLINE to build a relevant community for whatever your ultimate purposes are.

For example, if you want to build a social network for keeping in touch with friends or family, finding a spouse/mate, or building “contacts” you would create a profile/register with social networking sites like Facebook (www.facebook.com), Unyk (www.Unyk.com), MySpace, Stumbleupon (www.Stumbleupon.com),Friendster, etc.

If your goal is to create a business/profesional network of contacts, then you create profiles in “business” oriented sites like LinkedIn, Vox, MeetUp, Bizpreneur, TakingItGlobal, 43Things,etc.

In either scenario, your goal is to build an online BRAND. You are creating and projecting an image of yourself as a product or service to deliver a set of solutions. Branding is all about making a promise with your networks to deliver a consistent experience that is invaluable, unique, and memorable – consider it your own personal marketing campaign to establish and maintain your USP…Unique Selling Proposition.

But you also need to be seen as a subject matter expert to build your ONLINE credit. So, that means finding people in your industries or Associations of peers, and “hanging out” where they do online. Follow the most popular bloggers in the industries you’re interested in, post comments on their blogs and discussions, start your own discussions in LinkedIn, form Groups of your own, or start groups in MeetUp.

But wait…there’s more! You want to be engaged in as many areas as possible, so you also want to research the Forums/Groups that are populated with people you want to meet. You can do that by joining all relevant groups in Yahoo(https://groups.yahoo.com) and Google (https://groups.google.com).

Before you begin registering on these sites, you’ll need to create a comprehensive list of all the characteristics/key areas you want to use to define yourself. For example, if you are working on expanding your professional network using online media, you use all the combintations of relevant keywords that define you. Using myself as an example, I enter terms like career coach, career counseling, busienss coach, busiensscoaching, etc. when I create my online social network site profiles. Be sure to use all the phrases and all combinations of terms that define you.

You can ask people you worked for/with to give you recommendations to build the relevance of your professional profiles. Be sure to build the size of your network by expanding the number of people you invite to join you in your networks.

But it goes further. If you are a business owner, consultant or solo practitioner, you should be blogging on a regular weekly basis, have your own website, connect your blog with your website, and Tweet.

Social media ALSO requies you to apply these branding/marketing atrategies with your off-line or personal networking strategies. Again, with branding yourself it’s all about being consistent.

My partner Sherley Duncan of GoldPlaceNYC says that using social media is like twirling in a circle and wherever you stop, you are opening doors to your personal and professional self ONLINE. It’s a great metaphor.